Make Hay While the Pandemic Rages

In other words, treat COVID-19 like a dry-run for the upcoming “big one”

If there's one painfully apparent thing right now, that'd be that pretty much everybody out there just can't wait for things to get back to normal. Be it attending live footy matches (or whichever sport(s) one prefers), eating out at restaurants two, three, four, five times a week, hitting up the movie theatres, nights out at the opera, getting plastered at pubs, etc. Generally speaking, and those in dire straits aside, a significant amount of people can't wait to get back to their preferred form of bread and circuses.

A quick end to abnormal times

The undeniable fact though is that historically speaking, our high energy way of life prior to the COVID-19 pandemic has been anything but "normal", and is in fact the most abnormal our species has ever lived through. Meanwhile, the absurd level of brittleness that this relatively mild pandemic has exposed in our high-energy dependent lives, communities and economies should come as a surprise only to those that haven't been paying attention.

I don't, however, say any of this as an overzealous collapse writer all too eager to adapt the rhetoric and then jump in on the pandemic bandwagon. Several years before I started this blog, back when I spent more than half a decade researching and writing my as-yet-to-be-published manuscript (which this blog derives its name from), one topic I focused on was pandemics, and more specifically, influenza pandemics.

H1N1 influenza (image by NIAID)

As I stated on Reddit exactly one year prior to the day that COVID-19 was supposedly acknowledged by the Chinese government,

...the reason why it got named the Spanish Flu is because Spain, who wasn’t part of WWI, was the first to come out and admit there was a problem. They then got branded, even though the origination [sic] of said flu had nothing to do with Spain.

An excellent book on how the WWI trenches may have proved to be the incubator that allowed the 1918 flu to mutate into its lethal strength (much like how our chicken sheds and hog factories are doing today) is the book Fever of War by Carol Byerly.

Likewise, and in another response on Reddit more than two years ago to someone whose "money is on an engineered super virus pandemic", I clarified things with the observation that

It's currently being “engineered” in the massive monocultured chicken [and pig] sheds, so that's probably a good bet.

I've yet to re-read the half-a-chapter dedicated to the topic that I put together a decade or so ago, but I do nonetheless recall that I coined the name for this upcoming, "engineered" virus: the Monoculture Flu.

Although I won't be writing in detail about this Monoculture Flu until some time next year (don't worry, this current pandemic isn't going anywhere anytime soon), in the meantime I will nonetheless say that a few words by a longtime FF2F reader and commenter cleared up some lazy conclusions I'd deferred to, which prior to my renewed focus on pandemics made me conclude that industrial civilisation will not experience a protracted slow collapse but rather a fast collapse. Moreover, my aforementioned renewed focus on pandemics brought me to the further conclusion that the "big one" (the Monoculture Flu), in congruence with an increasingly dilapidated oil sector, will in fact be the trigger that will induce the eventual fast collapse of industrial civilisation.

Yes, COVID-19 is deserving of the once-in-a-100-years-pandemic moniker. Nonetheless, like many once-in-a-100-year floods are now becoming once-every-10-year floods, the rate of catastrophic pandemics may very well increase as well (although I doubt it, probably just a fair amount of false alarms). But just like the existence of once-in-a-100-year floods is nothing new, neither are once-in-a-100-year pandemics. What is new is the backdrop of industrial civilisation, precursor to what I'll now coin as the once-in-an-industrial-civilisation pandemic. Aka, the Monoculture Flu.

Fast collapse and the once-in-an-industrial-civilisation pandemic

I admit that in the second-last post I wrote before having to take yet another extended hiatus from this blog I got a bit lazy, that laziness resulting in me sheepishly dropping my neutrality and aligning myself with the notion of a slow collapse of industrial civilisation rather than a fast collapse (see below for a bit of a write-up on the two).

Collapsing Down the Plum Tree
Neither a slow or fast collapse of industrial civilisation are pre-ordained. How (s)low can you go?

Perhaps it was a mistake made in deference to what one might call "collapse fatigue", although regardless it was simultaneously a twice-over mistake due to the fact that there was apparently no way it was going to slip by and not be called out by this blog's astute (and only) regular commenter, Joe Clarkson. His entire comment can be read here, although I'd say this is the key paragraph:

I think David Korowicz was on to something. You need the functionality of modern civilization to repair any glitches in modern civilization. Once that functionality drops below some uncertain tipping point, the glitches multiply too fast to be repaired. Once enough damage is done, it’s start-over-from-subsistence-agriculture time. And then you have the problem of no more accessible fossil fuels available to build things up again.

For the uninitiated, it's the last sentence that is of particular importance. Long gone are the days when poking a hole in the ground would unleash an under-pressure gusher. Those wells have all been tapped, leaving us with the "dregs" (low EROI supplies) of fracking, tar sands, deep sea oil, etc. Without readily available supplies of high quality energy there will be no way to access those dregs (as we are still able to do today), and there's no way that sophisticated gimmickry utilizing energy from bullocks or draft horses will appreciably change that equation. Left with low quality energy, once this industrial juggernaut comes to a halt there'll be no restarting it.

That all (in my opinion) being so, and to return to the topic of the current pandemic, due to the readily apparent broad pining for the return of the bread and circuses of yore, it would seem that the best plan of action for those wanting to craft a place in the post-"big-one" world would be to use COVID-19 as a barometer for how one might prepare one's self, families and communities for a future reckoning (supposing they haven't already).

Although that's generally been the implicit motive of this blog's writings, expect that to get a bit more explicit over the coming years.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pandemonium

If there's one thing that this world currently doesn't have a shortage of, that'd be coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. It's been said that the 2019/2020 bushfires down here in Australia utterly dominated the news cycle, bushfire coverage accounting for 20% of all media consumption. COVID-19? Try 90%.

I've got to hand it then to John O'Nolan, founder of Ghost (the blogging platform FF2F is published with), who stated that

I'm not going to write about COVID. Everyone is already inundated with information, and I have no unique perspective. So, my instinct here is to take a step back and pause, rather than adding to the noise.

Just because one has a platform doesn't necessarily mean one ought to use it for the latest hot topic, and there's no doubt that the majority of what's out there is dribble, if not outright trash (and I'm not even talking about that ridiculous Plandemic stuff). But over here at FF2F, well, this kind of thing is our bread and butter.

"Pandemic?? That's my favorite kind of collapse!!"

So over the next two to three years or so expect FF2F to be doused with a fair amount of pandemic-related material since I do, if I may, think I have a unique thing or two to offer.

Although being somewhat stuck in Melbourne for a few years has done nothing for my inherent lackluster writing proficiency (and now I'm really stuck thanks to stage 4, state of disaster lockdowns having been announced last night, curfews and all), for the past half a year (as well as the previous two years) I have nonetheless been undertaking a slew of "research", have done my fair share of note-taking, and have even done a bit of preliminary writing for several COVID-19-related and non-related posts. Here's a taste of some of the COVID-19- and pandemic-related posts you'll be seeing here on FF2F in the coming months and years:

  • Melbourne as the world's most liveable lockdownable city
  • the re-seeding of COVID-19 in Australia by expats
  • the beginning of the end of commerical air travel
  • the collapse of WeWork
  • the run on the banks (the seed banks, that is)
  • the underlying cause and source of COVID-19 (and no, wet markets and encroachment on forests is much too myopic of an understanding)
  • the precariousness of our just-in-time food supply in light of COVID-19
  • our food supply's dependence on (exploited) off-shore migrant labour
  • the upcoming stock market crash (which may very well happen before I get around to writing about it)
  • a Dr. Pooper Papers post on toilet paper gate (which started off here in gloriously-sophisticated Melbourne in fact)
  • the knock-on effects from the fact that we've now effectively passed peak oil (for both conventionals and unconventionals)

And more. Some of that "more" may include material I'd been working on prior to COVID-19, including lengthy posts on

  • the "solution" for Australia's entanglement between the ascending and descending Chinese and American empires
  • Australia's mega-bushfires
  • Jimmy Dore's energy blind-spot (which, I might add, having gotten rather tired of how that blind-spot was marring the majority of what Dore spoke about, I in return decided to cancel my previously-mentioned Jimmy Dore Show subscription)
  • a post that I particularly wanted to land on a certain 11th of November anniversary (but which I now don't think is going to happen quite so soon)

And more. Although my track-record suggests that I'm not going to be able to actually write any of that while still in stultifying Melbourne, I will however manage to put something together for later this month on the Australian version of Black Lives Matter, utilizing the last of the fumes that I've been managing to run on down here.

As a bit of an aside, although there's been much hoopla about various symphony orchestras and other musical acts conducting online performances over Zoom via their living rooms and in empty stadiums, there is one particular act that has yet to get their fair share of pandemic-era attention, that being one of the few musical acts that have not only gone through the eye of collapse themselves but who are also the one and only act whose ferocity undeniably exceeds even that of COVID-19. In my attempt to rectify that attention-deficit oversight, and to add some spice to FF2F's ensuing COVID-19 posts, I'll be closing off each COVID-19-related post from here on in with a relevant hand-picked song by these "monsters of brass", the inimitable Fanfare Ciocărlia.

2020 Fanfare Ciocărlia shows cancelled due to COVID-19, live performances generally accounting for 90% of a musician's income

There'll be few – if any – YouTube embeds here though, since I'll instead be embedding via Bandcamp, the online music service whose cut is between 10% - 15%, with 80% - 85% of all proceeds going to the musical acts themselves. Moreover, Bandcamp have been waiving their revenue share on the first Friday of the month since COVID-19 began (Bandcamp Friday), so if you'd like to pick up some of the "Gypsy horns from the mountains beyond", then that'd be an ideal time to do so.

Fanfare Ciocărlia
Fanfare Ciocărlia are a 24-legged brass beast whose eastern funk groove has torn up halls and festivals across the planet. Their energy and ingenuity having won them fans from Melbourne to Memphis, Tokyo to Toulouse.

Anyway, without further ado...

Sounds of COVID-19, with Fanfare Ciocărlia

To start things off, and to mark the passage of industrial civilisation's zenith as well as to mark the beginning of the end of these fossil-fueled "golden days", here's Fanfare Ciocărlia playing what else, but "Golden Days". Crank up the bass, and let your hips do what they do best.

Not sure what this "Sounds of COVID-19, with Fanfare Ciocărlia" section is? Then be sure to check out its dedicated page for an explanation:

If one has no choice but to be surrounded during COVID-19 by those whose lives revolve around bread and circuses, then one should at least be like Brisbane Lions small forward Allen Christensen and learn how to handle pandemics like a boss, particularly in preparation for... the Monoculture Flu

Formerly a budding filmmaker, now jawboning on the collapse of industrial civili­s­a­tion & the renewal of culture.